Time. It’s a tricky concept, huh? A moment ago I’d been standing at the edge of adventure, thinking about ritual, accomplishment, what our traditions mean, and, to be completely forthcoming, thinking about Lyric and if she might want to spend some time with me when we both got back. Now that moment—my very recent past—was some unknown number of centuries in the future, and I was going to have to do some quick thinking about my situation.Step one was going to be to get to a safe place. Yeah, I know, pretty soon I was going to need water, food, some way to defend myself, all kinds of things, but it was almost dark, and the howls I had heard — oh crap, there they were again — told me that there was at least one species of deadly predator at large in the area. Everything but safety would have to wait.My first thought was to try to get a fire going, but I wasn’t very confident that I could make it happen under conditions this damp and this dark. So my next best bet was probably going to involve getting into a tree and moving high enough to get me out of range from these wolves. I found a small ash tree that was skinny enough for me to shimmy up a ways. I made it to a fairly sturdy branch, and moved out far enough to stretch up and out to reach a much sturdier branch on a bigger tree. Unless a bear or maybe a big cat came along, I was going to be okay. It was going to be a long night, but not a lethal one. Tomorrow I’d take a look around and see where and when I’d landed. Northern Europe? Canada? Had the American Revolution happened yet? Had the telephone been invented? The wheel? I wanted to know, obviously, but it would have to wait. I got as comfortable as I could, pressed against the tree trunk, hoping I might drift a bit, maybe at least get some low-quality half-sleep before I had to face tomorrow.And then I heard it. It was a voice. It was fairly close by and I was pretty certain that it belonged to a child. Therefore, that child was walking around at night in an area where I knew there were wolves prowling. Damn it! Remember a second or two ago when I was settling in for a luxurious night of shivering in a tree and trying to almost-sleep? That reality was gone. Time really is a tricky concept.Making as little noise as possible, I eased down from the tree, and took a few tentative steps toward the voice I’d heard. I wasn’t hearing the wolves now, but that didn’t mean anything. The sky had cleared a little, and there was a three-quarter moon shining faintly through broken clouds, increasing my visibility some. Not much. Just ahead of me, I could hear footsteps, but the voice had stopped speaking.Then the footsteps stopped. I could hear a rumbling growl just ahead, and was starting to imagine myself somehow saving the day and returning home in record time, having accomplished an amazing feat of straight-up heroism, when the seldom-heard-from practical voice in my head began to point out that I had no idea how to subdue a wolf or wolves in pursuit of an easy dinner. Just ahead, I could now see the silhouette of a boy, maybe ten or twelve years old. I was about to speak, to shout out a warning, when I saw the wolf in a blur of motion, but not attacking the child. Nope. Sprinting directly towards me.